Meat Free Monday

Mushroom and Spinach Pilaf


Growing up, Mondays were always meat free. For reasons beyond my comprehension, my mother would cook veggies on Monday’s and Thursday’s in some kind of prayerless ode to the powers that were. We were not raised in an even vaguely religious household. Our rules were based on universal rights and wrongs. We were given life lessons about being good to others, the virtues of truth and good deeds and the simplicities of being good souls. 

Mother, the self-proclaimed tree-hugger, allowed us to have experiences that will stay with me for a life time. Like picking Lucky Beans and collecting them in my lumo-coloured socks. Walking in hail storms in yellow and red gum boots. Or painting my face whenever I could. I always feel as though I have had an enchanted childhood, filled with fairy stories, princesses with a purpose and all the pretty frivolity that any little girl could want. 

Anyway, this initiative, to jolt Cape Town, the unhealthiest city in the country, into some kind of conscious eating regime and of course decrease our carbon foot print, makes me think of all the things that my mum would cook. As the years passed, we began to start the week with Whole Wheat Roti and a few curries – usually Potato (Number 2’s favourite), Sugar Beans, Green Beans and sometimes Cabbage. 

Historically, Indian people have been vegetarian. To this day, most of the Indian continent are still herbivorous as it was, and still is, believed to be wrong to take a life. 

Due to the eon’s of practice, I think it’s just makes good sense to turn to Indian cuisine for inspiration when I have a veggie night in mind. In celebration of yet another Meat Free Monday, a tradition that has been with me for quite a while now, we dined on Mushroom and Spinach Pilaf sprinkled with Pumpkin Seeds. 

1 small Shallot 
1 tbsp Olive oil
A few tablespoons of seeds, whatever you have
2 tsp fresh, or half tsp dried, thyme
200g brown cap mushrooms – I used Oyster because that’s what i had
Approx 300g cooked brown whole-grain rice
150ml stock or a bit of white wine
100g young spinach
1-2 chillies
2 cloves of garlic
Method
Trim and finely slice the spring onions. 
In a dry pan, toast the seeds until they’re lightly brown. Set aside until later. 
Add the oil to the pan, stir in the Shallots, thyme, garlic cloves and chilli. Cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes until the onion is soft.
Meanwhile, wipe then quarter the mushrooms. Stir into the onions, tossing for 3-4 minutes until dark, damp and just cooked through.
Add the rice, breaking up any lumps and add the stock. Simmer until the pilaf is juicy rather than wet.
Stir in the spinach and season with as much salt and pepper as you desire. When the spinach has wilted – it ready to serve with a sprinkling of seeds. 
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